Jesse Jackson urged marketers and advertisers to "push back boundaries and break down walls" in their creative work on stage at Cannes Tuesday. In conversation with publicity don Richard Edelman, Jackson, 75, said advertisers had more power and clout than politicians when it comes to advancing progressive causes like civil rights, same sex marriage, workers rights and the environment.
"Many of you are constrained by what you can't see. You're in ethnic and racial silos" he said, urging marketers to explore the world beyond their own borders. "We have globalized technology and capital, but we have not globalised human rights, workers rights, children's rights and environmental protection."
Jackson, a civil rights icon who has been fought for equality and justice singled out GM as a proactively diverse employer and Coca-Cola as a good global citizen for being among the largest employers in Africa. (He did not mention any health issues linked to the sugary drink.) The way toward true globalism, he said, starts with hiring.
"We must work together to create a more diverse workforce," said Jackson. "We must create a more inclusive environment. Give a voice to those without voice."
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. When asked about that quote after his talk Jackson said he maintains hope. However he issued a call to action: "It doesn't bend on its own. You must do the bending."
At times it seems like big marketers are competing to see who can be the most supportive of gender equality in advertising and media. But several are coming together under the auspices of the United Nations, really, to form the Unstereotype Alliance, leaning on a term coined by Unilever but inclusive of the entire industry. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson, AT&T and WPP are charter members of the effort, which Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed said in an interview had some similarities to the Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer effort in the U.S. Formal kickoff on Thursday in Cannes will include a power-packed lineup from Publicis Groupe, Interpublic, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Alibaba and many more. One focus of the alliance will be developing a global way to measure progress advertisers are making on eliminating gender stereotypes, akin to what the ANA has done in the U.S.
This could never have happened a few years ago. There are so many global marketers in Cannes this week that the World Federation of Advertisers can hold a meeting. Despite their packed agendas, about two dozen CMOs at companies including MasterCard, Volvo, Heineken and Visa will spend Thursday morning at the Carlton in a three-hour forum discussing issues like brand safety, consumer frustration with the online ad experience, and the always popular topic of stuff that just didn't work. WFA CEO Stephan Loerke says there's a change in mindset among marketers to take back control of things they had delegated responsibility for. "In Cannes they are keen to establish direct relationships with tech companies, and get a sense of who the players are," Loerke says. They are looking for who can help them, and also who can hold the adtech companies accountable, he said. The Snapchat ferris wheel is probably not a big draw.
There is one fewer global marketer at Cannes this week after David Wheldon left his passport in a taxi on his way to the airport in London. Wheldon, a former agency exec who is in the dual role of CMO of RBS (that's Royal Bank of Scotland) and president of the World Federation of Advertisers, travels all the time and realized the document was missing after arriving at the airport. Happily, his passport was found and returned, but the busy exec had already whittled his Cannes trip down to a mere day, so he's skipping Cannes this year.
From a sun-splashed rooftop just off the Croisette, Samsung Electronics America CMO Marc Mathieu looked back on last year's Note 7 smartphone recall debacle. "Clearly one of the things that was fascinating with what happened last year [is] it forces you to listen much more than ever before," he said in an interview this week. As result of the consumer feedback, "we are trying to really push the brand to be more human, more emotional," he said. That has led to ads like one released earlier this year by Leo Burnett that plugs the Gear VR headset by showing an ostrich taking virtual flight. "You really can have no other emotion than having a smile on your face," Mathieu said of the spot, which is expected to contend for a Film Lion this week.
As agencies drop major bucks here meeting with clients and partying well into the night -- and morning -- there is still a healthy and growing skepticism about how much Cannes actually matters anymore and if the spending is worth it. "I think this has jumped the shark. I think it's done," said one high-ranking executive at a major agency said this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity. As for the awards, he suggested the big winners will be forgotten as soon as everyone goes back to work next week. Pop quiz: Do you remember who won last year's Titanium Grand Prix? The answer is here.
Vets of the Cannes Lions may have noticed that the festival's bags this year no longer come packed with heaps of flyers, mags, and swag. According to Cannes Lions spokesperson Mark St. Andrew, this was an eco-minded decision on the part of the organizers. As the festival has grown and expanded, so has the number of panels and presentations -- leading to tons of collateral that delegates would end up dumping immediately after pick up anyway. Also, he noted, the Festival has caught up with modern technology, and there are now screens aplenty around the Palais to remind people of the goings on.
Translation founder and CEO Steve Stoute wants to direct the spotlight back onto creatives at the Cannes Lions by hosting a party for creatives only. Tonight, at Cannes nightclub Gotha, he'll be opening the doors for free to all the creative delegates at the Lions. (If you're a registered creative, you should have gotten a message in your inbox). The party, which he's hosting with supermodel Naomi Campbell, is co-sponsored by HBO and also happens to be celebration for HBO's upcoming four-part documentary series, "The Defiant Ones," which tells the story of the storied partnership of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. "This has gotten so convoluted with commerce and media people coming in, I want to bring back the original concept of celebrating creative excellence," Stoute said. "I wanted to do something for creatives, where the party's for them." Future, by the way, will be performing live.